10 Ways the ENABLE Alliance Supports e-NABLE

The ENABLE Alliance, also called the Alliance for Project Based Learning Solutions, Inc., is a nonprofit dedicated to supporting the global e-NABLE community. It was founded in June 2017 by Maria Esquela, Ivan Owen, Peter Binkley, and others to provide resources, promote innovation-based problem solving, and advocate for citizen research that will highlight the integrity and quality of e-NABLE’s work. Here are 10 ways the ENABLE Alliance supports e-NABLE:


Liam, the first recipient of a 3D printed prosthetic, is a joyful young boy in South Africa.

1. FDA Communication

As an outcome of regular communication with the Food and Drug Administration, the ENABLE Alliance advocates for e-NABLE volunteers to view their work as collaborative research and for recipient candidates to be included in the innovation process as collaborative researchers. The Alliance tries to give clarity as to what conditions must be met for the FDA to designate e-NABLE designs as Class One Medical Devices With Exceptions.

2. IRB Approval

The ENABLE Alliance strongly advocates that all volunteers working with human subjects seek the approval of Institutional Review Boards whenever possible. A work group is exploring options for establishing an IRB for the e-NABLE community. By obtaining IRB approval, researchers will be able to present their work at credible conferences and in credible publications, and they may advance the quality and integrity of the whole community.

3. e-NABLE Research Group

At the Open Prosthetics conference in August, the Alliance strongly advocated for researchers in the e-NABLE community to collaborate with each other and with citizen scientists in the community.

4. Science Challenge Promotion

The nonprofit promotes the citizen science challenges of enablingthefuture.org. During 21 summer camp workshops, Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Girl Scouts posed a question about the effect of outdoor conditions on devices and used their results to suggest changes to designs and advisories to recipients.

5. Mentorship

It offers programs, events, and mentorship to promote citizen science and grow the emerging STEAM professionals. Free mentoring and printing of posters were offered to anyone interested in presenting at the Enable Alliance retreat teaching symposia and conference held 12/14-17 at the University of Maryland College Park.

6. Product Development

The ENABLE Alliance works with device designers and volunteers on selecting open source licenses. It shares testing outcomes and documents ongoing research in the community.  

7. Scientific Research for Publication

ENABLE Alliance initiated relationships with researchers to lay the groundwork for scientific publications and peer review in the community. The first scientific publication will be published in 2018. It will be edited with project managers of the National Institutes of Health 3D Print Exchange.

8. Enable Alliance Retreat

The organization held workshops and a conference at the University of Maryland College Park December 14-17, 2017.  This event celebrated the 5th anniversary of the gifting of the first hand, and looked to the future. 5 new devices were unveiled and their fabrication and testing data discussed at the conference: the improved Gripper Hand (Skip Meetze), three versions of the Promimetic Arm (Christian Silva), the Kwawu Arm (Jacquin Buchanan) the Frog Exoseleton model (Peter Binkley), a leg (Christian Silva). We also had an outstanding demonstration of a myoelectric hand design (Marymount University).

9. Curated e-NABLE Device Designs

The Alliance for Project Based Learning Solutions maintains a curated list of e-NABLE designs, including the following:

      • Old and new designs of hands and arms, including devices with power, sensors or  myoelectric designs
      • Lower limb designs
      • Exoskeleton designs, currently upper limb for children after hemispherectomies and others after traumatic brain injury
      • Over 200 assistive tools for people with upper limb weakness
      • Over 200 assistive tools and learning manipulates for people with vision impairment and kinesthetic learners
      • Volunteers designs for animals, including beaks and legs

10. Other Research in 2018

      • Identifying and testing mobile power and connectivity solutions that can support distance learning and e-NABLE projects in the field
      • An Open Data citizen science project tracking the status of 3D printers in the community
      • The testing of filament; this includes a citizen science project exploring the breakdown of PLA in the environment that was started by school children at the Digital Harbor Foundation in Baltimore, MD.
      • The exploration of solutions for recycling waste plastic and failed prints to create materials for e-NABLE device fabrication; this includes efforts at the University of Maryland College Park, and those of e-NABLE volunteers in other countries

The ENABLE Alliance is a distinct yet supportive organization tied to the e-NABLE community for research and support. Comment or reach out on social media for more information.


——————-This article is an original e-NABLE Newsletter publication——————-

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